Transverse myelitis is a nerve condition affecting the spinal cord. The spinal cord carries signals to and from the rest of the body, receiving sensations and controlling muscle movement. With transverse myelitis, both sides of one segment of the spinal cord become inflamed. It often causes a band-like sensation across the middle of the body, causing sensory changes below that point.
The condition appears to be caused by infections, immune system disorders, and other disorders that can destroy the myelin sheath that covers the nerves, including multiple sclerosis.
Symptoms sometimes develop from several hours or several days (in acute cases) or may take over one to four weeks to develop (in subacute cases). They may include pain, muscle weakness, abnormal sensations, and bowel/bladder dysfunction.
Imaging, blood tests and a lumbar puncture will confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment for transverse myelitis includes medications usually including steroids, antivirals, pain medications and others, along with physical and occupational rehabilitation. Usually, people with transverse myelitis recover at least partially. Severe attacks sometimes result in major disabilities.